Tag Archives: ink pH testing

De Atramentis Starts Rich and Fades

Happy New Year! Let’s start the year right with a fresh look at some lesser known inks.

De Atramentis is the Latin word for ink. The company is based in Germany. It specializes in a series of specialty inks, including perfumed inks. We obtained 13 colors from a collection and decided to test them with 6 months of UV light. We also tested their pH level.

Here are the results of our UV light testing of De Atramentis inks. The left side is unexposed to UV light. The right side was in a sunny window for about 6 months.

The inks we tested were Black Rose, Red Rose, Gladiolus, Heather Violet, Elderberry, Lavender, Myrrhe, Field Flowers, Deepwater, Olive Green, Lily of the Valley, Tulip and Mozart.

Straight out of the bottle, I love the rich, vibrant, saturated colors of the inks. A blue-ink addict, I especially love the Myrrhe and Field Flowers. Lavender is lovely but it is a deep blue, not purple, as I would expect. Deepwater is a blue-black. Lily of the Valley stands out as a very pretty green, to me. Red Rose shades from reddish purple to a nice pinky-purple, fuchsia, maybe.

Click the photo for a close-up look at the DeAtramentis inks.

After spending most of autumn and winter in my sunniest window, the results surprised me. You can see the results in the photo, but there was a unique unevenness to how the colors handled the UV light. Most of them lost their special vibrant saturation. It always surprises me when black inks such as Black Rose fade a bit. Red rose took a hit but didn’t completely fade out the way Gladiolus and Heather Violet did. The deep, rich purple of Elderberry faded substantially but still held on. Lavendar, Myrrhe and Field Flowers faded heavily to what basically is the same color! Deepwater lost its blue to become more of a black. Yet Olive Green and Lily of the Valley didn’t lose much of their color or vibrancy at all! Tulip and Mozart seemed to have lost about half of their original color.

Vibrant and saturated colors often fare poorly on pH tests, as they are usually quite acidic or base/alkali. In our testing, the results were fairly pH neutral for these inks. As a brief reminder, pH neutral is 7 on the scale of 0 to 14. Pure distilled water is a 7. O is acidic and 14 is alkali or base. In theory, we want our inks as close to 7 as we can get them. BUT, it is important to note that we have no idea how the ingredients in these inks will interact with the rubber ink sacs, celluloid and elements of your converters. A 7 pH with ingredients that might cause some sort of chemical reaction with a rubber ink sac might be disastrous for a pen. Therefore, this is simply raw data that I hope you find interesting.

Black Rose………………….6.6
Red Rose…………………….6.6
Heather Violet…………….6.5
Field Flowers………………4.7
Olive Green…………………7.4
Lily of the Valley…………4.4

Caran D’Ache Chromatics Face the UV-pH Challenge

Swiss pen maker Caran D’Ache is most famous for its precision engineering on its line of ballpoint pens. They make nice fountain pens, too, but it is the company’s ballpoints that the world knows best. Yet, as so many pen makers now do, it also decided to enter the lucrative fountain pen ink market.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of Caran D’Ache Chromatic inks before and after undergoing 3 months of UV sunlight testing.

Caran D’Ache Chromatic Inks are a daring entry, indeed. From their hexagonal bottles that tip to fill to the last drop to their bright and cheery colors, Chromatics made an instant splash on the scene.

Naturally, we wanted to know how well these inks hold up to UV light from the sun and where they register on the scale of a pH test. We placed this sample in our sunniest window for 3 months. We also used our pH meter, which was calibrated to the heat and temperature of our testing station before testing the inks.

The results of our test were surprising. I falsely suspected that there might be some heavier pigmentation in the “Chromatic” inks that would make them shine and dazzle a bit on the page. However, virtually all of the ink colors lost seemingly 85 to 90% of their color, fading heavily from view. “Electric Orange” all but disappeared. Even a stalwart color such as “Cosmic Black” faded to a medium brown, and it had the most staying power.

The pH test results ranged all over the map. As a quick refresher on chemistry, a pH number of 7 is pH neutral like pure water. The closer to 0 something becomes the more acidic it is. The closer to 14 it goes, the more alkali or base something is. In theory, you want an ink that is pH neutral, BUT we have no idea how the chemicals in each ink will react to the chemicals of the ink sacs, converters, inkfeeds and the like. We have found some “neutral” inks to eat through ink sacs rapidly, while some seemingly alkali or acidic inks don’t bother a pen’s parts at all. The following is simply raw data for you to do with as you please.

COLOR:                              pH Score:
Cosmic Black                      6.9
Electric Orange                  8.9
Vibrant Green                     4.4
Idyllic Blue                          3.1
Infra Red                             8.2
Ultra Violet                         7.6
Magnetic Blue                    3.7
Organic Brown                   4.5
Hypnotic Turquoise         N/A

A few of the things that stand out to us are that Cosmic Black is almost perfectly neutral. Aligning with more of our past experiments, the blues were fairly acidic. Yet, playing against stereotype, the red and purple were closer to neutral. Green remains quite acidic, which is expected, but the brown also was acidic, which wasn’t expected.

As always, I hope you found this snippet of ink data helpful to your quest for the perfect ink for you.

Strong Enough for a Man; pH Balanced for a Fountain Pen?

One of the many great aspects of marrying a scientist is the gadgetry. Intrigued by my ink-fast tests  with UV light, Dawn decided to get a professional pH meter to test our ink for corrosiveness. If you remember basic chemistry from high school…which I barely do…you will remember that we have acid on one side of a scale and base/alkali on the other. The scale ranges from 0 to 14. 7 is neutral like distilled water. The further you move away from 7 in either direction is more corrosive. The 0 side is acid and the 14 side is base/alkali.

You would think that all inks are hovering around a 7 to be safe in your pen and on paper. We certainly did.

Holy cats! We were wrong.

First you saw these Pelikan Edelstein inks in our UV ink fast test. Now we’re going back and checking their pH balance!

For years I told people…as I was told by many pen collectors and dealers before me…that you can always trust simple blue and black inks from the major pen manufacturers. However, just our initial testing indicates that might not be the best advice any longer.

Before I go on, let me preface the following by saying that we are not chemists. We feel confident in our results from our testing. However, we do not know the chemistry of the ink interacting with ink sacs, celluloid, gaskets, seals and other assemblies inside your pens. Our pH testing is simply raw data we gather from bottles of ink we have collected. Yet, it might help shed some light if you are experiencing trouble with certain inks interacting poorly with your vintage or modern pens over time.

Having recently written about Pelikan Edelstein inks in an ink-fast test, I thought I would revisit these inks for our pH testing. For those keeping score at home our meter and inks were tested and calibrated at 24ºC.

Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst               5.6
Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine          3.3
Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine             6.4
Pelikan Edelstein Garnet                   6.5
Pelikan Edelstein Jade                       5.3
Pelikan Edelstein Olivine                    6.0
Pelikan Edelstein Ruby                       7.9
Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire                 3.7
Pelikan Edelstein Smokey Quartz       6.5
Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite                7.3
Pelikan Edelstein Topaz                      6.4
Pelikan Old Version Violet                   2.7
Pelikan Modern Violet                         3.4
Pelikan Brilliant Red                           6.9

Again, I’m not a chemist, and I have not studied how these inks interact chemically with ink sacs and other pen parts.

That said, what really strikes me as fascinating is that the “traditionally safe” blues such as Sapphire and Aquamarine are really acidic. I love Edelstein Sapphire and use it more than any of these other colors, and I would never have guessed it was as acidic at it is.

Also fascinating, I’ve been told for years never to put red ink in an ink sac, but Garnet, Ruby and Brilliant Red are among the closest inks to test near pH neutral.

Again, the chemicals in the ink might interact differently with the chemical compositions of our pens, but we find this to be a really fun look into our favorite inks. Many more UV and pH tests to come!